Journal of dairy science

Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy prediction of neutral detergent-soluble carbohydrates in timothy and alfalfa.

PMID 19307652


Carbohydrates in forage crops can be divided into neutral detergent-insoluble fiber and neutral detergent-soluble carbohydrates (NDSC); the latter includes organic acids (OA), total ethanol:water-soluble carbohydrates (TESC), starch, and neutral detergent-soluble fiber (NDSF). The accurate and efficient estimation of NDSC in forage crops is essential for improving the performance of dairy cattle. In the present study, visible and near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) were applied to evaluate the feasibility of predicting OA, TESC, starch, NDSF, NDSC, and all related constituents used to calculate these 5 carbohydrate fractions in timothy and alfalfa. Forage samples (n = 1,008) of timothy and alfalfa were taken at the first and second harvests at 2 sites in 2007; samples were dried, ground, and then scanned (400 to 2,500 nm) using an NIRSystems 6500 monochromator. A calibration (n = 60) and a validation (n = 15) set of samples were selected for each species and then chemically analyzed. Concentrations of TESC and NDSC in timothy, as well as starch in alfalfa, were successfully predicted, but many other carbohydrate fractions were not predicted accurately when calibrations were performed using single-species sample sets. Both sets of samples were combined to form new calibration (n = 120) and validation (n = 30) sets of alfalfa and timothy samples. Calibration and validation statistics for the combined sets of alfalfa and timothy samples indicated that TESC, starch, and NDSC were predicted successfully, with coefficients of determination of prediction of 0.92, 0.89, and 0.93, and a ratio of prediction to deviation (RPD) of 3.3, 3.1, and 3.6, respectively. The NDSF prediction was classified as moderately successful The NIRS prediction of OA was unsuccessful All related constituents were predicted successfully by NIRS except ethanol-insoluble residual OM, with Our results confirm the feasibility of using NIRS to predict NDSC, its fractions, and other related constituents, except for OA and ethanol-insoluble residual OM, in timothy and alfalfa forage samples.